Around 75% of Newcastle city centre businesses believe they'll permanently close if lockdown lasts longer than 6 months

Several businesses in Newcastle city centre have remained closed as lockdown endures Credit: ITV

Around three quarters of city centre businesses in Newcastle believe they could go out of business if lockdown lasts beyond six months.

NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District company for Newcastle city centre, released the findings from a survey of city centre firms.

Amongst the survey's other key findings, only 2% of businesses were operating as normal while 59% of respondents have seen a reduction in turnover between 81-100%.

The numbers go some way to highlighting the impact the Covid-19 outbreak, and the resulting lockdown, are having on local business.

Adrian Waddell, chief executive of NE1 Ltd, said exiting the lockdown would pose the real challenge for businesses and the government.

He said: "The research shows that Newcastle’s business community is in a fragile state.

In terms of how businesses rated the government's handling of the crisis, 67% thought it had been effective or very effective.

Crucially, however, they felt that the government had bought them time rather than create a solution.

The top three priorities for businesses in expenditure terms were:

1) Staff Wages 71%

2) Utilities 53%

3) Rent 52%

Owners’ wages were 15%.

Mr Waddell said the government needed to develop a 'phased' plan to get the nation, and the region, back to work.

He said: "To date the Government’s support has helped by buying time but it has only delayed decisions that could inevitably lead to job losses and company closures along the way.

"We need a measured, phased plan for easing restrictions and getting the nation back to work. But the survey shows that timing is crucial.

“There is a very fine line between protecting the nation’s health and protecting its jobs and long-term economic survival.

“The message from Newcastle’s business community is clear; Government support needs to be flexible, targeted and adaptable as businesses begin to reopen and get back on the path to profitability.”